AMY AND GARY'S BIOGRAPHY
Born in Merritt Island Florida, Amy experienced first hand, Americas space program. From the bleachers, she watched the space shuttles lift into space. Much of her time was spent on the Gold Coast beaches. At age five while attending church she took to heart the sermons of her pastor, Adrian Rodgers. She understood her need for a savior and gave her life to Christ. Amys family was entrenched in politics and after her fathers appointment as General council to the Secretary of State, eleven year old Amy and her family moved to Floridas capitol.
Although Amy missed the coast and her friends, she thrived in Tallahassee. She attended First Baptist Church where she was a part of a strong group of believers who were supportive, encouraging, and accountable to each other. In highschool she was involved in theater, cheer leading, tennis, and in 1981 competed and won the title of Miss Teen Florida. She managed to have room for one other very unique talent. Amy loved playing the harp.
Music had always been important to her and she loved to perform as a young child. After arriving in Tallahassee Amy was introduced to the harp and continued to practice and learn the instrument. In Jr High she had a sense that God would use her talent for His glory. After her senior year in high school she began to compose music and lyrics. She then attended Wheaton College near Chicago where she majored in music and continued crafting songs. However, being from Florida, with no coat to speak of and finding that open toe high heels did not work well in January, Amys friends took a proactive approach and educated her on the essentials of Northern living. A shopping trip garnered a ski jacket and some boots. Still, Amy was not terribly warm, but she would stay alive.
As she drove between Wheaton and Tallahassee she would stop in Nashville and pursue co-writing relationships with writers who had publishing deals. Before Amy left Wheaton College she co-wrote with a budding songwriter classmate, David Hamilton, which produced an album cut to their credit. Upon graduation, in 1986, Amy moved to Nashville with the intent of writing music for the publishing contacts she had developed.
What happened next was truly out of the ordinary.
Neil Joseph from Word records suggested that Amy write a couple of harp instrumentals to present to him because Word was embarking on an instrumental line to compete with Windham Hill Records. At that time Amy had just purchase a new electric Salvi harp. The first electric harp ever made. An engineer, Keith Compton, who worked with Sparrow wanted to record the electric harp because he thought it would be interesting. Amy played the songs she had just written for Neil to be used on Keiths demo. Later, Compton played the demo for a budding producer. Knowing they had a potential record for Sparrows Meadowlarkinstrumental line, they immediately sent Amy's music to Billy Ray Hearn, the head of Sparrow at the time. Sparrow made an offer the next day to sign Amy for for a two record contract. Neil Joseph encouraged her to sign with Sparrow and Wes Yoder acted as Amys advocate negotiating the details of the contract. In just three months, Amy moved to Nashville, was under contract, and was writing for her first record. During her first recording "Peace in the Puzzle", Amy found herself overwhelmed and nervous being surrounded by talented Nashville stalwarts like her Producer Peter York (Phil Keaggy) and Engineer Norbert Putnam (Dan Fogelberg, Jimmy Webb, and Joe Walsh). During the recording sessions other Sparrow artists that she had looked up to would pop in like Michael Card. The stress of recording eleven songs live to two track didn't inhibit her ultimate success. Jazz Is magazine reviewed the recording as the best harp recording they had ever heard. One year after arriving in Nashville her first record was in the marketplace distributed worldwide by Capitol Records.
Gary was born in Iron Mountain and raised in the heart of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. life was sheltered due to living in such a remote area of the country with very little outside intervention. He lived in a one tv channel union town. Iron ore mining was the main employment of Republic, Mi.
As a child, Gary understood that he needed a savior. At age eight the seed was planted but it was hindered by performance expectations. Through his growing years he found that being as sinless as possible and pleasing others at any cost proved that he was a good person which to Gary at that time was synonymous with being a Christian. This ended up causing more shame and brokeness and less love due to the legalistic restraints that were imposed on his life.
Gary never went without food or clothing but during his school years his family had little left after the groceries were paid for. They did travel a few times to see relatives. When he was twelve, one of the family trips was to Indiana to see his cousins in Upland. He had recalled meeting his uncle Tom Beers and his family only once before. They visited the Beers once again when he was 16 for a family reunion . Those visits turned out to be a very important prelude to his spiritual and emotional development.
After attending Northern Michigan University for a semester Gary realized that NMU was not the place for him. He went home and worked at his fathers business for a year but was not content. He knew he needed to have an education. He remembered the cousins from Upland and a university he knew nothing about called Taylor . Because of his uncle Toms influence, Gary applied to Taylor University where his uncle was the Dean of Students. Gary's first experience at Taylor was the January term. He could not believe how blessed he was having this opportunity. Immediately he knew he was in a speciaI place. To many from Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and other cities, Upland was a country cornfield but to Gary, it was the center of the universe.
Most of the other students understood Gary was a bit behind the times. He was not very trendy. His car was old and in bad shape. Many students would ask him what country he was from thinking he was a foreign student. It was hard being different. Gary understood his social position and was satisfied in knowing that he would continue to learn and grow and hopefully connect with friends and classmates in the future.
His last class at Taylor was a January Term class called CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) led by Lowell Haines. They took a trip to Nashville to meet several people in the music industry. Gary had dabbled in music throughout college but after Lowells class he felt God was leading him to Nashville to pursue a music career. So in 1986 he left for Nashville.
While in Nashville Gary had begun a long distance relationship with a senior at Taylor. Her name was Kelly. In early 1987, Kelly suffered a tragic death. Life for Gary had not been easy in Nashville. He was lonely, and felt he was going nowhere. Kellys death was too much to bear. He decided to leave Nashville for a few months and go back to Michigan to collect his thoughts.
Graciously and providentially, on Gary's last night in Nashville, two close friends persuaded him to go out to dinner at Dalt's grill to say goodbye. That same night Amy and a friend of hers headed out to the same trendy grill off of Whitebridge Road.
GARY AND AMY MEET
While sitting at Dalts, Gary's last evening in Nashville was sad. He felt the relief of leaving town for a spell but was discouraged. While talking with his friends, Michelle and Seung, before the meal, Amy and her friend walked up to Gary's table to say hi because they knew Michelle
Gary recalls "One of the yound ladies stood behind me as they chatted. I did not know who she was, and I didnt really see her very well but I can only say that it was God who told me that my wife was present. I went numb and did not say a word. I was leaving in the morning. What could I say to her. I was broken and she looked like she had it all together. I managed to say hello and ask her name and then she was gone. Her name was Amy Shreve... I knew she had this instrumental record and that was all. During the four months away from Nashville I managed to learn that she was from Wheaton College. Unbeleivably, the alumni office at Wheaton gave me her current address and telephone number. In September 1987 when I returned t Nashville, I finally made the decision to call her. I chose a Monday evening. Amy , not remembering, who I was, was not interested in talking and struggled to end the call. Well, what I lack in style I made up for in persistence. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I made calls which were ended in a similar fashion. Friday I tried to regroup and re-plan my strategy. On Saturday, I realized I had no other strategy, so I decided I would call her again. That night Michelle Wagner was having a get together at her apartment and I was invited. I thought 'now I have something fun to ask Amy to go to'. I made one more call on that Saturday. I asked her to go with me to Michelle's party. Amy said was invited to he same gathering and she quickly ended the call. However, somewhere between her apartment and Michelles home Amy realized that I was the guy she met at Dalts Four months earlier. Surprisingly she did not call the police to have them waiting for me at Michelles door! We ended up talking for hours at the party and saw each other almost evry day for eleven months when we married. Amy and I are committed to each other and to this day, 28 years later, are very much still in love."
MUSIC MINISTRY AND LIFE ON THE ROAD
Being signed as a Sparrow artist so quickly was an encouragement to Amy. She was new to Nashville and seemed to be making quite a mark. But, two years after her contract, Sparrow started to change direction. Amys second record was cancelled along with the whole label and the Meadowlark line was sold to a German company called Delta Music. Amy was not sure which direction to go with her music. Knowing how well she communicated with people, and how she wanted to serve God, Gary suggested she take her art and talent to the church. After a few trial bookings Amy was convinced this was her calling. She recorded her first vocal/harp record called I am His and He is Mine in 1991. Gary began to book concerts in Michigan and Wisconsin that Spring and Summer and by August they were a year in advanced bookings. They made a bold step and leased out their home in Nashville. Little did they know they would not go home for four long years . They traveled the USA and Canada circling North America a half dozen times. During that time Amy recorded three more CDs Christmas 1993 and Harp and Willow 1995 independantly and Solo Flight Harp 1992 for Benson Records. Living on the road took its toll and in 1995 they tried to encourage the tenants to rent somewhere else. Instead the tenants bought the Wixtrom's home. Gary and Amy sold the house and moved near downtown Nashville in the Vanderbilt area. Shortly after the move in 1996 Amy signed a distribution deal with Light distribution for their label, Wix Records. Subsequently Light released the CDs Christmas and Harp and Willow into the CBA marketplace. Sales went well and Amy was working on Haven 1998 to add to the label. However, In 1997 Light began to have trouble and became the target of lawsuits after their parent company Platinum Entertainment from Chicago made some bad business moves shortly after becoming a publicly traded company. Their best prospect Sixpence None the Richer was in disarray, unhappy about their future at Light and the whole company imploded. Once again Amy was left without the means to distribute her CDs into the marketplace. Still, Wix Records released the single and title track called Haven to radio. Haven charted in CCMs radio top 30. But Amy and Gary were frustrated with the business of music.
Amy thinks back "We did not know the kind of changes that were about to take place in the next five years. We were about to enter a new and painful season of life. By 2002 I had lost every member of my family except for my father. Two years earlier we had our first child Elise, on November 30, 2000. Earlier that year on March 1st, I buried my mother in Tallahassee, FL after a long struggle with sickness. Eight weeks after her funeral, we found out we would be parents with our first and only child. My mother would never know that I, her ownly child, would be a mother. My grief over my mothers death was accentuated by the fact that she would never hold her only grandchild".
Four weeks after Elises birth, Gary fell from the roof of their home and ended up in traction for two and a half months. These were some of the most trying times of their married life. Amy could not keep up with the demands of a one month old baby, an incapacitated husband, and the ongoing grief due to her mother's death. Physically and emotionally they fell apart but survived by the grace of God through friends and churches across the country who cared for them. However, they were not sure they could continue traveling and performing around the country.
In 2002 Amy finished Whisper a record that contained several songs and references of the grief she was going through. Songs about mourning, heaven, and the fact that we are strangers on this earth. She was crying out to God for hope in the midst of her anguish. Until the fall of 2008 she was uncertain whether she should continue in ministry or if she should move to other work. The angst of being on the road along with knowing that God was not finished with Amy's music kept the couple in a strange limbo. In 2003 they began a relationship with the Voice Of The Martyrs which continues today. Recording two records for their ministry and leading worship at their conferences motivated them to continue with the ministry. Through VOM, Amy and Gary have been blessed to rub shoulders with many who have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ around the world. Their stories of persecution have encouraged the Wixtroms and moved Amy and Gary to pray for them and their persecuters. In 2008, Amy and Gary were at a crossroads.
NEW RECORD AND RELATIONSHIP
Then, in September 2008 they received a phone call from Dee Brestin, a friend who had authored several books and has sold millions of copies. Amy and Gary had previously performed with Dee at a few womens conferences. Dee had an interesting proposition. She wanted Amys music to be included in a study guide she was working on for Zondervan. Amy loved Dee and she loved the idea of being connected with her. Dee was writing a new book called The God of All Comfort", a book based on the grieving she experienced after her husband Steve died of cancer in 2004. There would be a study guide that would go along as a companion to the book. Amy was the right artist for many reasons. She truly has a gift of compassion and sensitivity towards those who are in pain and her music soothes the disheartened. In February 2009 Zondervan contracted (although the agreement took until June to get signed) Amy to provide a 10 song CD for the study guide. Within a month we had two offers for a 16 song version of The God of All Comfort CD that would once again be distributed. Amy chose Discovery House Music. Not only are they a record company but they are heavily involved in ministry through the Radio Bible Class and their Our daily Bread. Amy had the opportunity to be distributed through Word and she appreciated their interest and would have loved to have partnered with them. Yet, she was thrilled to be with a company and ministry in Discovery House and RBC that puts a premium not just on the music they release but the character of their artists as well as the depth of the music. Discovery House signed The God of All Comfort CD 2010 and "The God of All Grace" CD 2013. The call from Dee Brestin revived Amy and Gary's desire to tour. Also in January 2010, Amy and The Voice of the Martyrs commited to each other for the bulk of VOM conferences. To date, Gary and Amy have led worship at over 120 VOM conferences.
On October 22, 2015 Amy was given some bad news. Three weeks earlier she notices some lumps in her neck. After CT scans and a biops,y she found herself on that Thursday afternoon in an oncology doctor's office being told that she had a rare cancer and had three to six months to live. Her reply was okay (like it was no big deal). She was a bit excited to know that soon she may see Jesus. However, this was just another short pause in her ministry. In September 2017 she will be finishing a new record aptly titled "The God of All Hope" The fourth CD in her Anthology Series. Her 2017-2018 tour schedule is going ahead as planned. Amy's message has evolved through the cancer experience.
The peace of Christ and her lack of fear has sustained her as she fights
against a disease that strikes terror into the strongest of men.
Men who don't know Jesus.
Amy and Gary wrote a new song that will appear on her new CD. The song was written for film and TV and is a fun song that reflects Amy's personality even through difficult times. Go to our store for the details.
AMY SHREVE ANTHOLOGY
The last Anthology recording will also be ready and available by the end of August. The series of 4 recordings with over 55 songs, will be available in a box set.
We expect to have the companion
anthology book soon after the release.
THE GOD OF ALL HOPE 2017-2018 TOUR
After a measured tour schedule over the last 20 months Amy will be heading into the Fall with a new recording and a full schedule planned. The God of All Hope Tour will begin in Marquette, MI on September 10th where Amy now lives with her husband Gary and their daughter Elise. The appearances are planned for North America and Europe